Press and News

Sony Blu-ray BDP-S550 review

written by: zepman1

All right, so I finally got the new Sony 550 bluray player and was able to get it setup last night. I didn’t have time to give it a rigorous workout, but I do have some initial impressions. I have it connected to my 50″ LCD (720p) via HDMI-DVI cable for video, and to the AVR via 5.1 analog outputs since I have no HDMI. I played the Dave Matthews Live at Radio City bluray disc.

Setup:

The initial setup is somewhat complicated as there are a lot of options to choose and adjust within the Bluray player and the AVR. This is complicated by the fact I am using the analog outputs as I will explain. There is a quick start guide that is very helpful and makes it easy to get many of the settings in at least a workable state. I went through the complete system menus to finalize all the video, audio and speaker settings. I found the menus to be well laid out and easy to navigate. They also include basic descriptions of what the settings are for, which was helpful.

Bass management is present and the speakers can be set to small or large. I don’t know what the crossover point is. Speaker distances can be changed, as well as the output attenuated. This seems to be a significant issue for some people as apparently there is some issue with the LFE channel being -10db too low when using the analog connections. This issue is common to all players, not just the Sony 550. I adjusted the sub output gain up on my receiver instead of reducing the speaker output as I think this would increas S/N ratio since volume would have to be higher. It seemed OK to me with sub input at +6 dB, although I have not calibrated it with a setup disc and SPL meter yet.

Player appearance:

Nice looking unit with gloss finish. The front panel is a bluish black that looks pretty good to me. The front face plate folds up to hide the disc tray and the few controls that are available for a nice clean look. Connections well laid out on the back with component video, HDMI, analog 7.1 audio, digital coax audio, and optical audio outputs available.

Playback:

I don’t have another bluray player to compare it to, but the load times were fairly quick. I did not think it was much, if any slower than my older DVD player. It wasn’t an issue for me anyhow.

Video:

I did not re-calibrate my tv settings for the new player, but eventually will. For now it is the same as I had set up with DVE disc with my DVD player. Anyhow, the picture quality with a bluray disc was excellent even on my 720p display, probably a bit crisper than a typical HD broadcast from the cable company. Not a big step up, but there was a noticeable improvement. At my seating distance and 50″ screen 1080p/24 would probably improve the picture a little bit more, but I don’t think I am missing much.

I did not have time to check a standard DVD to check the upscaling capabilities. That will be for another time. I am curious to see, as I have always been pleased with the way DVD output looked on my tv, even when compared to HDTV broadcasts. It was better than tolerable with my tv doing the upscaling from 480p to 720p.

Audio:

I was able to output the Dolby TrueHD audio track via analog outputs and it was excellent. It is difficult to compare with the standard Dolby Digital for DVD’s without doing some sort of A/B comparison. I switched to the Dolby Digital track (640kbps) and the difference was not huge, but again it was there. The TrueHD track was more detailed and more dynamic. The standard track was certainly good, but was missing something. Probably would not miss it though if you did not have the option to go for the TrueHD.

Bass management was not really a problem. I would certainly rather be doing it in the AVR, but the Sony seemed to do an OK job, and the bass was good once I adjusted the gain to +6dB. I think I will end up tweaking this a little more when I get around to calibrating it with the DVE disc and SPL meter.

All in all this was a solid performing player, I have no regrets or complaints with it. I wasn’t blown away by anything in comparison to broadcast HDTV or DVD audio, but it was without a doubt a step up in all comparisons. I’m going to be away from home for a week, but hope to do some additional experimenting when I get back. I want to look at video upscaling performance with DVD’s, check audio tracks when watching bluray movies as opposed to the music bluray I was watching, and maybe see how well it sounds when playing audio CD’s.

UPDATE: 5/24/09 after extended use

After more extended use of the 550 player, and purchasing a 50″ 1080p Samsung plasma I have a few additional comments on this player.

When I bought my new plamsa, the bluray went with it for my new home theater room. The 1080p resolution took bluray video to a whole new level. Excellent picture quality is produced along with Dolby True HD through the HDMI connection. However, I would expect similar results from other quality manufacturers such as Pioneer, Samsung and Panasonic.

Moving the 550 to the new tv meant, my old Toshiba DVD player got a new lease on life with the old 720p LCD tv, and allowed me to finally make a comparison of the upscaling capability of the 550. It really does do a good job, and the picture it produces a better 720p image than my Hitachi tv when upscaling the 480p signal from the Toshiba DVD. It is a noticeable difference, more than I would have expected. The picture is sharper, and colors appear more vibrant and realistic when the Sony is upscaling.

All in all, a great player for the money if you need 7.1 analog outputs.

More info and feed back on the forums here.

From Sony:

Features:

Full HD 1080p video output1 provides high-resolution HD image, so you can take full advantage of the superior detail of Blu-ray Discâ„¢ video content.

DVD Upscaling via HDMIâ„¢ gets the most out of your existing DVD collection by upscaling standard definition video to near HD 1080p resolution1.

7.1 channel analog output provides connectivity to older receivers, making the player compatible with your existing audio system with 7.1 analog inputs.

Dolby® TrueHD internal decoding and bitstream output via HDMI™ for the Dolby TrueHD and dts®-HD (Master Audio and High Resolution Audio) codes delivers studio quality audio designed specifically for high definition entertainment like Blu-ray Disc™ movies, with up to 7.1 channels of surround sound that is virtually indistinguishable from the original studio version.

Slim chassis with a gloss black finish fits elegantly with your home theater system and décor, and the included backlit remote helps give you total control of the movie-watching experience.

Ethernet port provides connectivity to a home network with broadband connection so you can download network updates and bonus content2.

BD-Live2 technology allows you to download and stream bonus content such as additional scenes, shorts, trailers, movie-based games, and more.

Bonus View feature provides “picture-in-picture” capability with select Blu-ray Disc™ titles.

24p True Cinema capable4 provides a direct connection to 24p video display devices so you can avoid conversions and enjoy films at their intended 24 fps (frames per second) cinematic picture quality.

BRAVIA® Sync for Theatre5 technology utilizes the industry-standard HDMI™ CEC function to provide one button access and control of the appropriate inputs for your BRAVIA HDTV and HDMI-connected A/V components.

Precision Cinema HD Upscale circuitry uses high bandwidth digital-to-analog conversion and processing to detect image changes at the pixel level, rather than at the level of whole scan lines. Additionally, separate algorithms are used to process the moving and still parts of an image, resulting in sharper backgrounds with moving objects that are nearly free from motion artifacts.

BD/DVD/CD and AVCHD playback plays your favorite Blu-ray Discâ„¢ movies, DVDs, audio CDs, and AVCHD-format discs on your Sony Blu-ray Disc player3.
xvYCC color

Support for the international xvYCC color standard produces images with 1.8x the color space of the traditional RGB color standard, resulting in images with more natural and vivid color reproduction6.

Precision Drive system for BD allows you to play back some Blu-ray Discâ„¢ media or DVDs that may have been damaged or warped — with minimal degradation of picture quality2.
xross media barâ„¢

xross media barâ„¢ (XMBâ„¢) on-screen display is a fast, fun and easy way to access set-up menus, user controls, and more.

USB Port lets you connect the included 1GB USB flash-based memory for BD-Live External Memory2.

Specs:

Weights and Measurements

  • Dimensions (Approx.) : 17 x 8 3/4 x 2 3/4″ (430 x 220 x 70 mm)
  • Weight (Approx.) : 7 lbs 4 oz (3.3Kg)

Audio Features

  • Dolby® : Yes & Dolby® TrueHD bitstream out over HDMIâ„¢ (V1.3)
  • Dolby® Digital plus Decoding : Yes
  • Dolby® True HD bitstream output : Yes
  • Dolby® TrueHD Decoding : Yes
  • LPCM : Yes (multi channel decoder): Yes (HDMIâ„¢ bitstream out)
  • dts® Decoding : Yes
  • dts® HD bitstream output : Yes
  • dts® Output : Yes
  • dts®-HD Decoding : Yes

Video Features

  • BD-R/RE Read Compatibility : Yes (BDMV & BDAV format)
  • BD-ROM : Yes
  • CD (CD-DA) : Yes
  • DVD Playback : Yes
  • DVD+R Read Compatibility : Yes
  • DVD+RW Read Compatibility : Yes
  • DVD-R Read Compatibility : Yes (Video Mode and VR Mode)
  • DVD-RW Read Compatibility : Yes (Video Mode and VR Mode)
  • JPEG Playback : Yes
  • x.v.Colorâ„¢ Technology : Yes

Inputs and Outputs

  • Analog Audio Output(s) : 2 Channel: 1 (Rear); 7.1 Channel 1 ( Rear)
  • Coaxial Audio Digital Output(s) : 1 (Rear)
  • Component Video (Y/Pb/Pr) Output(s) : (Y/Pb/Pr) OUtput(s): 1 (Rear)
  • Composite Video Output(s) : 1 (Rear)
  • HDMIâ„¢ Connection Output(s) : 1 (Rear)
  • Optical Audio Output(s) : 1 (Rear)
  • S-Video Output(s) : 1 (Rear)

More at sony.com

zepman1 is a HT enthusiast who has been a member of the audioREVIEW forums since 2004.

Related Articles


NOTE: There are two ways to comment on our articles: Facebook or Wordpress. Facebook uses your real name and can be posted on your wall while Wordpress uses our login system. Feel free to use either one.

Facebook Comments:



Wordpress Comments:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*